Blogging Like I've Never Blogged Before

Monday, September 08, 2003

If you are in NY or will be in NY within the next few weeks, you should go see the September 11 Photo Project at the public library. Sure, it's a little intense to see some of those pictures, but it's good.

I've heard people say that there shouldn't be memorials on the anniversary because they lived through it, so they don't need to remember it, etc. They are entitled to that feeling, but I think it's good to be reminded of what that day felt like. I remember last year leading up to the anniversary I was thinking, No big deal. Just another day. Then I was in the subway one day and I saw this clock that also displayed the date, which was Sept. 10 and then it just washed over me. I was thinking, Oh yeah, that sure was a fucking scary ass time.

Maybe it's weird, but I'd rather not forget what it was like for those couple of weeks. I compare it to when I had kidney stones (stick with me... I have a point). The pain was so intense and nothing I had ever felt before. But ever since I've had them, I kind of want to get them again, just to feel that pain one more time. I'm not someone who particularly enjoys pain, but it was such an extreme, unique pain that I want to get back, because I really can't believe I went through that. (The pain was not in my wee-wee, which is the common misconception. The worst pain is in the lower back.)

So that's what I'd like to not forget about 9/11. The pain and the fear and that overall feeling of "What the fuck is going on?" Of course, I'd rather not actually have something happen that would cause me to experience that all over again. I just don't want to forget what it was like.

When I see photos from the attacks, it's not really the planes going into the buildings that hits me anymore. That's so familiar now that it's like watching a movie. No more surprises in seeing it. Still unbelievable, but not as gut wrenching as it was. What gets me is the individual photos of either people on the street watching what was going on, or the next day where people were walking around the city with the pictures of missing people. Each one looks different. Every expression is unique. Those people probably knew that the person they were looking for was gone, but they had to do that, because what the hell else could they do? That shit is real.

I remember seeing one photo of this woman in the street who was watching the first building fall, and she just had her arm outstretched like she was trying to tell it to stop. It was the perfect image of helplessness. Then there is this one. God damn.

Here's a quick story.

On around Sept. 13, I was in an internet cafe in New Orleans. I was down there by myself on a spur of the moment vacation. It was the first time I checked my email since the attacks and my inbox was flooded. There was one email from Rich at about 9:00 saying, Holy crap! and he had a link to the story on Yahoo from when the first one hit, having no idea what was about to happen. There were a ton more from the day and the next couple of days. Lots of forwards of pictures or prayers or calls to war. There was one from another friend who sent something around about a friend of his family's that was missing. It all just hit me at once and I lost it in this little cafe. I was crying my head off. It just broke loose. There was this black guy* next to me who just put his hand on my shoulder and was just kind of like, "You ok man?" He just kept his hand there until I stopped losing my mind.

The only time it was probably socially acceptable for a man to start crying like a child in an internet cafe, and then have some random guy just comforting him by rubbing his shoulder, was probably September 11th. If I walked into one now and saw that, I'd probably turn around and assume it was some kind of gay internet cafe for guys who just want to cry.

* Is it important that this guy was black? Not really. I think it just adds to the story. If you saw it in a movie or something it would seem like they were just pandering. "Oh, make one of the guys black. It'll be more poignant." I guess for me it's important.

So those are sort of my thoughts on this week. Sorry to get all somber and serious on you, but hey, it's my blog and you're not the boss of me!

In happier news, I'll be gone on vacation for about another week, so don't be like, "Hey Mike, write something you jackass." My friend Rich is getting married. I'm sure he'd love to hear you wish him well!
All material © Mike Toole; 2003 - 2006